My Military Career is Coming to an End and Here’s What I’m Most Proud of

Jordan Mendiola

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Wow, where do I even start? My entire military experience has been an extremely rewarding one.

For a kid who didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life after high school, the Army was a great fit for me.

With help from the military was able to establish my identity, brush up on the skills I needed to be a good leader, and do a lot of really cool things!

Here are some of the highlights of my army career that I won’t ever forget once I get out.

Basic Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma

No one ever forgets their basic training experience. I was a scared 18-year-old kid who was so timid and shy on day one that I remember my legs shaking when our drill sergeants told us to get off the bus.

It’s funny because I was never afraid of discipline when it came to sports and my coaches. But because this was brand new and I didn’t know what to expect, I knew it was going to help me seek discomfort.

Here’s where I shot my first rifle, repelled off a 40-foot tower, and ruck marched 20 kilometers.

The people I met at basic training stay in touch to this day as it was an experience none of us will ever forget.

Engineer Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri

The only construction equipment I had ever touched in my life prior to AIT was little Tonka trucks and construction toys.

It wasn’t until I stepped foot on Fort Leonard Wood soil that I got to learn how to operate heavy million-dollar equipment. I drove dump trucks, loaders, hydraulic excavators, bulldozers, graders, and so much more.

I never thought I’d ever step foot in one of these pieces of equipment, but the Army forced me to learn these things because I signed the contract.

AIT is where I grew the most as a person. I led my small platoon as the “Sapper Spirit” and had major respect for all of the guys in the Cujo platoon.

The training environment was a little more relaxed, but we still sought discomfort daily and I’ll forever be grateful.

National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, California

Anyone who has ever attended NTC has some crazy stories to tell. This is where you go if your unit is gearing up for deployment overseas.

It’s fourteen days inside of “The Box” with limited equipment, no bathrooms, showers, and lots of dirt.

The entire two-week period really showed me what it meant to be away from home with nothing but your equipment and your unit. It was badass. I would never do it again, but I’m so glad I got to experience it.

My buddies and I reflect on our 24-hour days and just how intense it was to not see a shower or bathroom for two entire weeks.

Deployment to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

To be honest, the moment I heard we were deploying sparked a lot of fear inside of me. I never want to die young, but if I’m serving my country and protecting my loved ones back home, then it’s worth it.

I was sent to the Middle East with my brothers and sisters in uniform and we did tons of cool things. We did a ton of construction work on high-priority sites and left that place better than we had found it.

There were lots of late nights and early mornings, but through it all, we got to know each other and ourselves much better by the end of it.

Constantly being on the go made me more adaptable to any situation, even if that meant sleeping outside in the desert in the middle of a sandstorm.

I’m grateful the Army forced us to deploy so that I could get that unique time under my belt. The year away from home was the coolest study-work-abroad trip I’ve ever experienced.

Final Thoughts

I’ve done a lot of cool things in my life, and a lot of them relate to my six-year commitment to the United States Army Reserves.

Without these years of service, I would have never been so willing to take risks and be as spontaneous or adaptable as I am today.

The people I’ve met along the way will be friends and family for life.

Thanks to my time in service I transformed from a lost, clueless teenager, to a confident, more adaptable individual ready for anything to come my way.

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Creative entrepreneur, U.S. Army Engineer, and dedicated runner. Committed to sharing ideas that lead to more fulfillment in all areas of life. Email:

Chicago, IL

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